By Ira Levin
Sliver is a very
different kind of story than Levin's earlier work, Rosemary's Baby,
but I did find the two books a little similar in places. In Rosemary's Baby,
the central character, Rosemary Woodhouse, moves into an apartment in
an old building called the Bamford; commonly know as The Black Bamford
because of the long string of accidents and deaths associated with the
building. In Sliver
the central character, Kay Norris, moves into a building with a similar
reputation. In this case however; the building has a new, elegant
sliver construction; but like the
Bamford, the building at Thirteen
Hundred Madison has been the scene of an uncommon number of accidents
and deaths that have earned it the nickname Horror High-Rise.
Both books also have characters who have supposedly committed suicide
jumping from upper windows, but who have really been murdered. And in
an elevator repair man gets a little careless and has a
fatal accident, while in Sliver
it is the building's superintendent who
falls into the elevator's machinery and meets a messy end.
are just a few similarities that I noticed between Sliver and Rosemary's Baby; if
read the two books back-to-back I may have noticed even more. I am
not criticizing; just stating that the books share some common
ground. The main guts of the stories are very different. Rosemary's
Baby is a supernatural horror. The horrors in Sliver are very
much of the
flesh and blood kind.
The first chapter of Sliver
opens to find the central character, Kay, being shown around
apartment 20B, but while Kay is taking a look at her prospective new
home the owner of the building is taking an equally close scrutiny of
through cameras hidden in the light fittings. There are cameras in
every room, even the bathroom; not just in 20B, but in every apartment.
The tenants of the sliver building are on camera twenty four seven, but
none of them are aware of it. For the mysterious and voyeuristic owner
of the building it is like watching the ultimate reality TV show and he
is more than willing to kill to protect his secret.
Kay is thirty-nine and works as a Senior Editor at a publishing house;
also recently divorced, so when she moves into 20B the only one sharing
her life is her cat, Felice. It is a fresh start
for Kay and she soon settles in and makes herself at home, becoming not
only the new star of the hidden screens, but also the
secret obsession of her audience of one.
At the beginning of the book the main mystery is the identity
the owner of the building, and the reader is quickly given a few
possibilities to choose from. This isn't one of those stories where you
only find out at the end of the book, though. That particular cat is
let out of the
bag long before you reach the half way mark and I must admit that I
found it impossible to guess which one of the prime suspects would turn
out to be the owner. It could easily have been any of them.
Once Kay finds out the truth about who owns the building it isn't long
before she finds out about the cameras and, gradually, she too becomes
fascinated by the show going on across the many screens. It is some
time later, however, before she realizes the truth about the
'accidents' in the building. By then she is not only in too deep,
she is in over her head; and could be destined for a body bag herself.
is 214 pages long and is split into three parts. Although the
book has been labelled as a horror novel it does not contain as much
horror as most of the books it would probably share shelf space with at
Barnes and Noble. The reader is always aware that Kay is
probably in danger, but it is not until the thirty-some pages that form
the third part of the book that the danger becomes a reality and most
of the real horror begins.
did not enjoy reading Sliver
as much as Rosemary's
Baby or The
Wives, but it is a good solid story that will
probably appeal to many readers who would not normally enjoy a book
that bears the horror
label. It might, however, prove to be a little tame for those readers
used to plenty of horror in their horror stories. Either way though,
for any reader who becomes really creeped out by the thought of someone
watching them, reading Sliver
is sure to the cause of many a bad dream.